Learning is the constant. An intersection at #TEDx Blvd and #EduCon / #EduCon25 Drive

Do you really believe that all students can learn? At high levels?

Do you see learning as the constant… and time and support as the variables? Or do you still see time and support as relatively fixed, so learning must then vary? (Think As, Bs, Cs, Ds, Fs – learning variability in alphabetic symbols.)

Are you willing to rethink entire educational structures in order to facilitate high-level learning for ALL children?

Is all of the above worth at least a half hour of your time – if only to stretch your thinking about what’s possible?

Then, please watch these two TEDx talks.

Beyond the Book: Mary Esselman at TEDxSarasota [total time – 12:33]

Esselman explains her experience with blowing up the construct of age-grouping and re-imagining school such that students of current understanding are “grouped” regardless of their chronological age.


We must invest in research and development in education: Jim Shelton at TEDxMidAtlantic [total time – 14:24]

Shelton shows examples of modern one-on-one tutoring that make new learners as cognitively agile as veterans – even more so. And he makes a strong case that echoes recent words from Sir Ken Robinson – that schools should be asking students, “How are you smart?” not “How smart are you?”

The two talks above come from TEDx Talks Roundup: 4 Fascinating Talk about Education. The other two talks are well worth the views, too. A hat tip to @cannonball31 for passing the blog post to me.

Also, another hat tip to @GregBamford for helping me to think a bit deeper about educational structure (versus individual scapegoating) after I participated in his #EduCon session on organizational development – “Teaching Frameworks for Creative Collaboration.”

Lemme See Your Tootsie Roll – I Mean, PBL! Encienda #EduCon #EduCon25

How might schools nurture curiosity, imagination, and humanity to a greater degree? It might be as “easy” as being intentional and purposeful about practicing those traits.

On Saturday, I was honored to share an Encienda presentation at EduCon 2.5. Encienda is EduCon’s version of an Ignite slide deck – 20 slides, all set to auto-advance every 15 seconds. Here’s my slide deck as a PDF with my slide notes:

The entire round of Encienda was fabulous. Unintentionally, the trend was definitely about PBL – project-based learning – and engaging learners in real-life issues and problem solving.

Now, we just have to Go. Do. Make it so.

Added 1-30-13:

#EduCon, Shawn Achor on happiness and work, Gratitude, and Action

Typically, during an intensive moment of learning and growth, I try to be expeditious in my reflecting and blogging. Particularly in the last two years of my life, I have practiced to make writing a daily habit of mind and hand. Nevertheless, for whatever reasons, I have been slower to reflect in writing and in pixels about my recent experiences at #EduCon 2.4. I think I needed (and perhaps still need) more time and space to let this fine wine of an experience breathe and bouquet.

What’s more, I just discovered, thanks to a tweet, that Shelley Krause archives the reflections from #EduCon attendees. Now, in addition to my “excuses” above, I think I want to read more of those reflections as I work to weave my thinking into the tapestry of others’ thoughts.

Shelley Krause, @butwait, archives the reflections from #EduCon 2.4

Then, this morning, I watched a 12 minute TED talk – “Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work.” While watching, I resolved myself, at the least, to record three gratitudes that I feel from attending #EduCon.

Gratitude #1 from #EduCon 2.4

I felt that I was with “my tribe” and I could hear the speaking of my native tongue. At times, I do feel a stranger in a strange land. Occasionally, as I speak and work for school change and formal educational transformation, I perceive glances that communicate to me that I might as well be speaking a rare dialect from a single island in the Solomon archipelago. At EduCon, however, I felt a sense of “coming home” to folks who spoke my native tongue. We spent no time really on the “why’s” of school evolution…instead we spent our tribal time working through the “how’s” and the “what’s.” Our purpose was, and is, unified, and we workshopped constantly on details of implementation. I felt a sense that all accepted already a deep understanding that traditional schooling is imbalanced, at least a bit, toward adult convenience…when we should be working diligently to blur the lines between “real life” and school – to ensure that students are creators of understanding, not mere consumers of already-processed information.

Many people there were familiar to me, yet I had met only a couple face to face. Through blogging and tweeting – really practices of thinking out loud and learning in public – I built on top of foundations already constructed online. First-time face-to-face meetings were often accompanied by hugs – we felt we knew each other to a considerable degree, and we could start from that comfort of connectedness.

Be clear – we did not always agree. Healthy disagreement and variety of perspective was pervasive. Yet we started on a platform of already-constructed shared values, shared vocabulary, and shared respect. And the sharing was a fundamental attribute of those present – “learn, share, repeat.”

Gratitude #2 from #EduCon 2.4

I appreciated that the conference lived in a school, rather than in a conference center. On Friday evening, a panelist remarked that environment is not a strong determinant of being able to learn. While I understand his intended message – that learners can learn anywhere – I believe strongly that physical environment and surrounding play a huge role in learning. EduCon took place almost entirely at Science Leadership Academy. I think this setting played a huge role in my first gratitude – I feel at home in schools where students and teachers and parents are meandering and pursuing understanding of our world. Moreover, the SLA students essentially ran the show. When I entered the building for the first time, Jeff, a senior, asked if I would prefer a paper or e-copy of the program. When I said I wanted an e-copy, he asked if I wanted PDF or e-pub on iBook. After downloading the iBook version and perusing, I asked Jeff who made this beautiful piece. “We did. The students. It’s been a project of ours.” Jeff was the chief EduConcierge. Cameras and webcasts were peopled by students, and adults seemed to shy away from doing anything that could be lead by a student. Several of the sessions (conversations) were led and facilitated by students. Bravo! Learners were learners, regardless of age, and the school environment made for an intimacy of learning that, I believe, would have been less rich in a conference center.

Gratitude #3 from #EduCon 2.4

I am thankful that the conversations are purposeful, ongoing, and action oriented. These EduCon folks are DOERS. At times, I feel immersed mostly in talk at other professional-development sessions. EduCon was about bringing DOERS together. Most sessions ended with calls to action…”Write down one or two things you will do differently on Monday, next week, next month. Then, tell a table mate. Then, stay accountable to the connections you are making here at EduCon. Go do something.” Web 2.0 tools were employed purposefully and intentionally to propagate the conversations.

The sessions are termed “conversations,” and it seems expected that the face-to-face time at EduCon will serve to catalyze ONGOING conversations and actions. Meet-ups galore geared towards ways to keep the dialogues, discussions, and DOING alive. Use of existing and developing online connections provide means and motivation to “myelenate” these axons and dendrites of networked action and implementation. The proteins of the innovators’ DNA were double-helixing without pause.

Steve Goldberg encourages us to be resolved to DO after #EduCon

Liz Davis reflects on #EduCon 2.4 and reminds us to ask, “What if…?”

More reflection will come from me. Next, I need to read others’ reflections. I was in numerous spaces with people smarter, wiser, and more experienced than I. They helped me level up. They motivated me. I want to keep learning from them and with them. Yes, I will have much more on which to reflect. I have much more to do.

And I am grateful.

Synergy2Learn, #EduCon 2.4, #Synergy8 – Questions are the way points on the path of wisdom

How are you engaging learners in community-issues problem solving? Is your school contemplating and implementing more project-based learning? Do you find it challenging to dig into high-quality PBL? Do you wish you could share stories (like around a campfire) about how to utilize real-world issues to guide instruction, curriculum, pedagogy, and learning? Wish you were elbow-to-elbow with a tribe engaged in a project about PBL?!

On Saturday, January 28, Jill Gough and Bo Adams will be facilitating a conversation at EduCon 2.4: “Synergy – Questions are the way points on the path of wisdom.” We hope you can join the conversation. We plan to 1) share our stories about Synergy 8, 2) elicit others’ stories about how they engage in deep-level PBL at their schools, and 3) ask and respond to a big “What if…” question – What if we built a network of people who were taking on the challenges of community-issues problem solving with adult learners and student learners alike?

We might even start a blog to help connect us all…Synergy2Learn. Let’s build something together…It’s About Learning and Experiments in Learning by Doing!